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Quietus Charts

Quietus Reissues etc. Of The Year 2021 (In Association With Norman Records)
Patrick Clarke , December 7th, 2021 11:04

These are our favourite reissues, compilations, live albums, mixes, OSTs and etceteras of the last 12 months, as voted for by tQ staff, columnists and core writers

Picture by Lisa Cradduck

End of year list season is always full-on here at tQ. It's a slog to put together given our tiny part-time editorial team and the fact our website is by now so creaky that it's prone to catastrophic collapse at any moment, notwithstanding the constant procession of minor illnesses that seem to be repeatedly pounding our flimsy post-lockdown immune systems.

At the same time though, there's no time of year I feel prouder to write for tQ than when I'm copy and pasting Bandcamp embeds through the fog of a mystery viral infection. Over the course of the year, all this brilliant and bizarre music comes so thick and fast that it feels like a constant, frantic rush for us to keep up, like deckhands bailing out a leaky boat. When they're all compiled and organised in a lovely neat list, however, it's like stepping onto the shore and looking back at a magnificent ocean, teeming and crashing with energy and life.

My favourite comments we get on social media once the charts are published, are from people ticking off how many they've actually heard – or sometimes heard of – out of the top 100. That's because, as I paste those embeds, I'm ticking it off too. I'm just one of a number of people polled for the end of year charts, and there's always a host of stuff that slipped through the cracks for me entirely over the course of the last twelve months.

I find a particular joy in the chart you're about to read, which rounds up our favourite reissues, mixes, live albums, compilations, OSTs, split cassettes and general miscellany. The nature of my job here at tQ means that during the year, I'm usually focussed on new music; the reissues chart gives me a chance to immerse myself in a whole parallel universe of records that I was forced to put to one side until now.

At this point, I should point out that for all these end of year treats, we'd be completely unable to bring them to you without our paying subscribers. It's no exaggeration to say that from my first day at tQ on work experience in 2016 until the launch of our Steady platform just over a year ago, almost every minute was spent in the fear that we were teetering on the edge of the closure suffered by so many of our contemporary independent culture sites. Not only have our subscribers removed that particular sword of Damocles – they've allowed us to increase the rates we pay our writers, and commission some of the boldest content in the site's history.

The peril's not over yet though – as John Doran mentioned in his introduction to the main Albums Of The Year round-up, our ancient old site is crashing more than ever, and we live in fear of one day being unable to revive it. So if you're in the financial position to do so, we would love for you to take out a subscription. In return, there are some unbelievable perks (60 a year!) that have been a joy to put together. There are playlists (including an eight-hour Albums Of The Year mega-playlist), long-form essays from the likes of David Keenan and Kat Lister, podcasts with guests including Shirley Collins, Nicky Wire and Colin Newman, and specially commissioned albums and singles from GNOD, Sleaford Mods, Alison Cotton and more that you can't hear anywhere else. If you sign up before Christmas, we're offering almost 40% off the top asking price too!

I do hope that at the very least, you find something that you love as much as we do in the chart below. It has been, as ever, a joy to bring it to you.

Patrick Clarke

This chart was compiled by John Doran and built by Patrick Clarke and Christian Eede. Ballots were taken from Robert Barry, Charlie Brigden, Jaša Bužinel, Patrick Clarke, John Doran, Christian Eede, Noel Gardner, Ella Kemp, Fergal Kinney, Sean Kitching, Jennifer Lucy Allan, Peter Margasak, David McKenna, JR Moores, Eoin Murray, Stephanie Phillips, Luke Turner, Kez Whelan and Daryl Worthington

100. Tara Busch –
Jakob’s Wife (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
(Lakeshore)
Tara Busch's score for Travis Stevens' Jakob's Wife is as insidiously subversive as the film itself, with its take on vampirism and the modern marriage. Of course, it's wonderfully haunting, especially when utilising a ghostly female vocal over layered synthesisers or instruments that sound as if they've been decaying for hundreds of years, but there's also an undercurrent of black humour; think Ennio Morricone raiding the equipment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. And then there's her outrageously filthy cover of Concrete Blonde's 'Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)' that reminds us of what most vampire films are about: fucking.
Charlie Brigden

99. Leven Signs –
Hemp Is Here
(Futura Resistenza)
Leven Signs, AKA Pete Karkut and Maggie Turner, recorded this album in a shithole London flat with hardly any equipment or recourse to supportive scenes. They would in time locate peers of sorts: Hemp Is Here was released on Cordelia, a label servicing the whims of transatlantic mid-’80s wackos including R Stevie Moore and the mind-frying Rimarimba. Here, they slither through pastures of sampladelic DIY dub, electro-folk and ethno-dance without it ever being obvious who they were listening to. I get flashes of Muslimgauze, Normil Hawaiians, Young Marble Giants and Psychic TV at various points during this album, but that honestly doesn’t get us that close to the nub. It was the last Leven Signs release to date, but in a world saturated with goons telling you that all manner of inexplicable musical one-offs are special… this one actually is.
Noel Gardner

98. Ben UFO –
At Friendly Potential, Wellington
(N/A)
Recorded towards the end of a months-long run of shows across Australia and New Zealand – following a year-long, COVID-19-enforced break from club and festival DJing – this three-hour Ben UFO set distills everything that clubbers have come to love from the Hessle Audio label co-founder. "At [Friendly Potential's] request I tried to play with the energy of the old Sunday night sessions at FWD>>, and it was so fun," the DJ said of the set. "Old and new music side by side. Spinbacks at 2008 levels." Dipping through UK garage, grime, dubstep, UK drill and jungle, and expertly placing those sounds alongside various current techno cuts as you might expect from him, it's a recording that's certainly not shy of a few modern club classics, and the catharsis in getting to play such cuts after so long away from the club is palpable in the recording.
Christian Eede
97. Suburban Lawns –
Suburban Lawns
(Superior Viaduct)
Originally released by I.R.S. Records in 1981, the sole album by Long Beach, California post-punkers, Suburban Lawns, has remained hard to find despite being periodically reissued. Formed by CalArts students William "Vex Billingsgate" Ranson and Sue "Su Tissue" McLane (from Minneapolis), Suburban Lawns enjoyed a brief moment of notoriety when the Jonathan Demme-directed music video for their 1979 debut single, 'Gidget Goes To Hell', aired on Saturday Night Live. Although the received wisdom is that the Su Tissue-fronted songs are far superior to those sung by the other, male band members, there’s still plenty to enjoy no matter who is on vocal duties. Su Tissue's uber-cool deadpan delivery is utterly perfect for the band's Devo, B-52s, Talking Heads and Television-influenced sound, however, and it is true to say that her voice features prominently on all their best songs. 'Gossip', 'Janitor' and 'Green Eyes' are new wave classics that deserve to be heard by all with an interest in the genre. The only downside of this release is that it omits one of the band's best songs, 'Flavour Crystals', from the 1983 EP, Baby, which currently retails on Discogs for anything between £50 and £100.
Sean Kitching

96. Sun Ra –
Lanquidity (Definitive Edition)
(Strut)
One of five albums Sun Ra released in 1978, Lanquidity is often cited, perhaps more than any other album, as being the one that first opened the door to appreciation of his music. A gorgeous-sounding studio recording of a 17-piece band, including two guitarists, Lanquidity exhibits elements of jazz-fusion, funk and R&B. ‘Where Pathways Meet’ has an unstoppable swagger to it, whilst ‘That’s How I Feel’ was sampled by a number of other artists, including Marcel Foley and Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo.
Sean Kitching

95. The Ecliptic Newsletter –
Lidl Museum Of Ancient And Contemporary Art Audio Tour
(The Ecliptic Newsletter)
Comprising original music, covers and spoken sketches, contributions to this hour-long audio collage come from the likes of Acid Granny, Robbie Kitt, Jennifer Moore, Davy Kehoe, Eimear Walshe and more. Amid the dialogue and in-store sounds, there’s weird electronics and Gregorian chants, ad jingles and folk songs, a robotic cover of ‘On Raglan Road’ and a disorienting national anthem mash-up. At face value, it’s pure escapism. Scratch beneath the surface though, and you’re confronted with something more considered: a half-joked suggestion that, in the post-Celtic Tiger landscape, somewhere like Lidl can hold as much significance for young creative communities as any state-sanctioned cultural institution. It may sound strange, but take a trip through the daft aisles of this tape and tell me you’re not a little convinced.
Eoin Murray

94. Nadsat –
Nadsat
(Nadsat)
A big bundle of dancefloor-targeted fun that collects tracks from a diverse - in every sense - group of French producers. Nadsat straddles the neo-gabber of Paul Seul and Von Bikrav, Evil Grimace’s ‘Frapcore’ (French rap plus hardcore techno) track ‘Délinquance’ (featuring a vocal from French rap veteran Sefyu) the irresistibly sultry groove of Boukan label head Bamao Yendé’s and Le Diouck’s ‘Okocha’, Crystallmess’s slamming ‘Issa Revenge’, the chunky, club-friendly hip-hop of Nyoko Bokbae’s ‘Amoublem’ and Ascendant Vierge strapping hard trance thrusters to Mylène Farmer-style pop for ‘Discoteca’.
David McKenna

93. Various Artists –
Longing For The Shadow: Ryūkōka Recordings, 1921-1939
(Death Is Not The End)
Death Is Not The End are on a mission to expand the musical archive, with compilations of everything from Jamaican doo wop to pirate radio idents and adverts weaving new threads into the history of music. Longing For The Shadow: Ryūkōka Recordings, 1921​-​1939 goes back to the beginnings of the recording industry in Japan, and a style merging traditional Japanese forms with western pop and classical. Swooning orchestrations and prominent vocals capture some of the melodrama and bombast found in US and European music of the time, but beds of plucked and strummed instruments give an ordered elegance, tying it firmly to Hogaku tradition. Not much has been written about Ryūkōka, and a 2017 book by Hiromu Nagahara gives some clue as to why, arguing that although popular with the public, it was dismissed by critics both for its adoption of western sounds and its dwelling on Japanese traditional styles. Close to a century later, those are some of the qualities that make this compilation so fascinating.
Daryl Worthington

92. Daniel Hart –
The Green Knight (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
(Milan)
Daniel Hart has been steadily composing fantastic scores for the films of David Lowery for nearly a decade now, and his music for medieval mythmaker The Green Knight may just see his talents finally recognised. It's a fascinating score where you can either allow yourself to be swept away by the typically spine-tingling melodies and Middle English poetry or you can examine the intricate colours and textures coming from Hart's choice of instruments, from the nyckelharpa to the Prophet REV2 synth. Electronics may not be the obvious choice to most for the soundtrack to a film like this, but that's just the kind of thing that makes Hart's score stand out.
Charlie Brigden

91. The KLF, The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu –
Come Down Dawn
(KLF Communications)
I just imagined some bitter BITD whopper angrily refusing to listen to The KLF’s quietly ushered out, shimmering and timely ‘fix’ of Chill Out because it doesn’t contain the Tommy Vance sample and now I can't stop laughing. This year’s version of the 1990 post-club staple, of course, is languidly brilliant (apologies to Tommy V, Elvis, Acker Bilk and Fleetwood Mac who don’t make the cut, presumably due to copyright issues). It takes as its origin point not Brian Eno’s ambient albums of the ‘70s but his Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks from 1983, which set the convention of the lap steel as cosmic psychedelic signifier. And then the real trip across the astral plains of the Americas really gets going.
John Doran

90. Psychic Hotline –
The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline
(Disciples)
The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline works equally well as swansong and introduction to Psychic Hotline. Throughout, Special Interest’s Ruth Mascelli challenges our ideas of what punk could and should be. By using drum machines, synths, and keyboards, they craft iridescent lo-fi pop that still has passion and power. Of course this is nothing new, but in Mascelli’s hands it does feel exciting and subversive. If Psychic Hotline is over then Mascelli can feel proud to leave a strong body of work.
Nick Roseblade

89. Various Artists –
Resist To Exist قاوم لِوجودك
(Avon Terror Corps)
Hulkingly large digital compilation of weird electronics jointly devised by the Bristolian label/collective/organism Avon Terror Corps and a self-described countercultural festival in Palestine; it costs a tenner, all of which will go straight to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. These sorts of charitable Bandcamp enormities often end up feeling fatiguing, frankly, but a really high quality is maintained over three hours here. A wealth of Bristol heads (Harrga, Ossia), plus buds from further afield, stand with multiple Palestinian producers who were mostly new to me and consistently exciting.
Noel Gardner

88. Perko –
DIM249
(N/A)
Across 60 minutes, Perko's entry in the Dimensions mix series sees him explore a slippery sweet spot between peculiar IDM and hulking halftime drum & bass, the set's early stages seeing a foggy post-punk-esque cut from The Modern Institute giving way to an airier, percussive roller by Marco Shuttle and then on to Homemade Weapons' distinctive razor-sharp breaks. From there, the Copenhagen-based DJ and producer moves through jungle, D&B, dancehall and a volley of trippy, sub-100 BPM club cuts that prove you don't need higher tempos to lock a dancefloor into a hypnotic groove.
Christian Eede
87. "Blue" Gene Tyranny –
Degrees Of Freedom Found
(Unseen Worlds)
Where there are organising principles in this set, they seem to vary as necessary. Play the collection straight through to a newcomer and they might naturally assume due to the first disc that general piano improvisation might be the rule of thumb. But then the second disc introduces carefully structured, but not locked down, synthesized work from the 1980s, invoking the Australian First Nation term 'dreamtime' and suggesting, however secondhand, other perceptions of fluid time, other visions of music's function, the 'natural' sound of the unnatural and perfected-over-time piano giving way to another unnaturalness aiming to invoke the natural. Piano remains the main focus throughout but the various electronic explorations and innovations, as well as the introductions of full ensembles and other collaborations, keep the sense of magpie variety fresh.
Ned Raggett

86. LCD Soundsystem –
The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live At Madison Square Garden
(DFA / Parlophone)
This welcome re-release of the five-vinyl box, and first time on CD, of the tenth anniversary of The Long Goodbye bills itself as ‘an essential document of a singular moment in the history of LCD Soundsystem and New York City’s musical life’, and really, a decade on we can see that it really was a farewell to an era. It rids itself of the baggage of the 2000s by becoming a requiem for a cultural time, an epilogue to a movement. It sheds the attendant hangers on, copyists and coat-tail tuggers and elevates LCD ever further into the pantheon of the greats. The Long Goodbye is that rarest of things – a perfect live album that you would willingly play more than once, putting it alongside Live After Death, Minimum Maximum, No Sleep Til’ Hammersmith and Stop Making Sense.
Ian Wade

85. Bambounou –
SPND20 Mixtape
(N/A)
Bambounou's contribution to the SPANDAU20 mix series is a full-throttle hour-long joyride through skitterish polyrhythms, rude basslines and unashamedly functional techno. Mixed with majestic precision, it's a neat insight into what you could expect to hear from the French DJ and producer during a standard weekend set at one of Europe's best clubs.
Christian Eede
84. Magma –
Simples
(Music On Vinyl / Seventh)
You could be forgiven for dismissing the seven-inch as an appropriate vessel for the enjoyment of French progressive / NWW list / WTAF band Magma, due to time constraints. However I’m here to politely inform you that they own this format as much as they do the double album. Simples is a nifty ten-inch Record Store Day reissue of a 1998 singles compilation that also covers the many moods of Christian Vander and chums perfectly, from to gospel-informed prog pop to eschatalogical jazz fusion freakouts via blistering cosmic funk rock and breezy bossa.
John Doran

83. Coil –
Love’s Secret Domain (30th Anniversary Edition)
(Infinite Fog)
As always with Coil, Love's Secret Domain is about more than music; it's an exploration of what it meant, in 1991, to be a deeply inquisitive consciousness, all channels on, all bandwidths open, trapped in a human body and surrounded by the joy, anger and madness of existence. It's a palimpsest of an incredibly potent time for London's underground cultures, a mindmap of spaces, now largely lost, that I was discovering for myself as a teen: from music shops – Ambient Soho and Sister Ray on Berwick St in Soho, Vinyl Experience in Camden, with the motorcycle permanently crashed through its window, Rough Trade off Covent Garden, and on Talbot Rd in Notting Hill, around the corner from the Powys Square house where Performance was shot, and where, for many years, a Coil poster of a teenaged boy with electrodes running into his Y fronts hung threateningly above the counter (Teenage Lightning indeed); indie cinemas like The Scala in Kings Cross and The Metro on Rupert St; live music venues, Subterania on Ladbroke Grove, the Mean Fiddler in Harslden, the George Robey in Finsbury Park; club nights like Club Dog, Rage and Megatripolis at Heaven, Hardclub at Gossips on Dean St, and queer worlds, unknown to me at the time, like Trade and FIST.
Mark Pilkington

82. Phew –
Phew
(P-Vine)

81. Various Artists –
Molten Mirrors: A Decade Of Livity Sound
(Livity Sound)
Featuring 19 artists, from seasoned veterans (label founders and early-discovered mavericks like Bruce, Hodge, Simo Cell and Batu), to more recent Livity affiliates (Forest Drive West, Facta, Toma Kami) and the latest roster additions (Azu Tiwaline, Lack, Bakongo, Surgeons Girl), Molten Mirrors is a celebration of Livity's roots as well as the shape of the Livity sound to come. It is a communal, cross-generational artistic statement by a group of producers from the UK, Australia and Tunisia with different personal trajectories and stylistic approaches when it comes to production, but a shared sense for groove synthesis and introspective dancefloor epiphanies. Do not ask me for a favourite pick, because there are no fillers here, just thrills. Cheers to another ten years!
Jaša Bužinel

80. Djrum –
London Unlocked: At Tower Bridge
(N/A)
Performing in a specially adapted Tower Bridge adorned with a nightclub lighting system, the UK bass wizard and vinyl virtuoso Djrum delivered one of the early contenders for mix of the year. It’s a symbolic place in which the architectural and musical heritage of the city are unified. Djrum’s game-changing mix on 3 decks looks so effortless and sounds so tight, it gives the impression of a digital mix on CDJs. Apart from his matchless technical skills that include impeccable scratching and cutting, inspired effect manipulations and polyrhythmic mixing, the selection in this mix is simply outstanding. He just keeps delivering bomb after bomb from his record box, swiftly transitioning between various tempos, rhythms, genres and eras. There’s so much beauty in the way he blends unlikely tracks and how he builds and releases tension, switching from fast-paced to low tempo tracks without ever losing the flow.
Jaša Bužinel

79. Le Blaze –
La Tape
(N/A)
The underground French rap scene, mediated through the internet and a number of hugely dedicated social media accounts and sites, is a space where it’s now possible to find idiosyncratic, and widely diverging, visions and voices that have very little to do with the mainstream, despite the odd name breaking through and gaining wider acceptance. A good primer comes in the form of the La Tape release from a collective of beatmakers called Le Blaze, featuring some of the key names of the ‘new wave’. One of its figureheads, Le Fève (who also recently released the entrancing ‘Mauvais Payeur’) raps about “du futur rap a l’ancienne” (“future rap the old way”) on ‘Le Cible’ over a beat like a piston, and there’s Khali – an old head on young shoulders, with an instantly recognisable voice that buzzes like a despondent wasp trapped under a glass – on the minor-key trap of ‘Bazar’, while Malo laying his sombre tone on the elegiac ‘Innocent’ (“those who hate me are like me… no-one is innocent here”) is among the other treats.
David McKenna

78. Various Artists –
Bills & Aches & Blues (40 Years Of 4AD)
(4AD)
To mark 4AD’s 40th anniversary, the label commissioned its current roster – a considerable one that boasts the likes of Tkay Maidza, Jenny Hval, Deerhunter, Big Thief and US Girls to name but a few – to cover a track from one of the artists the label has released across the years. It leaves them with an enviable amount to choose from and throws up some fantastic combinations: Aldous Harding’s woozy exotica-tinged version of Deerhunter’s ‘Revival’ and Tune-Yards’ hypercharged take on The Breeders’ ‘Cannonball’, as well as plenty of total curveballs like Dry Cleaning’s whacked-out cover of Grimes’ ‘Oblivion’.
Patrick Clarke

77. My Bloody Valentine –
Loveless
(Domino)
At its best, Loveless is untouchable. Everything works beautifully on what's still their most sublime piece, the eternally astonishing ’To Here Knows When’, that swishing percussive loop an essential hang-on in the musical equivalent of zero gravity. But when they try the same trick on the pretty-pretty ’Blown A Wish’, all hushed and glowing like it's drowning in seratonin, what I hear is stillness, and rank good taste (fitting that the song itself recalls the wretchedly nice late-period Cocteau Twins). ’I Only Said’ plays gleeful games with tonality before exploding into the sound of a drugged summer, but then the marvellously windblown sound of ’Come In Alone’ can't dispel a certain fugginess.
Taylor Parkes

76. Julius Hemphill –
The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony
(New World)
This mind-numbing seven-CD box set of previously unissued work spans the career of composer and alto saxophonist Julius Hemphill, a founding member of World Saxophone Quartet and a charter member of the Black Artists Guild, the St. Louis counterpart of Chicago's AACM. The set was meticulously assembled by fellow reedist Marty Ehrlich, a long-time collaborator, who's spent years building the archive from which the work comes from. It's seriously diverse, with bracing performances featuring heavies like Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Olu Dara, and many more. A vital window into avant-garde jazz in the 1970s and 1980s by one of its most versatile, idiosyncratic geniuses.
Peter Margasak

75. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe –
Candyman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
(Waxwork)
What Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe has created with his Candyman score is a frightening tapestry of sound that is as fascinating as it is intricate. What's interesting about it is that it affords equal space to colour and texture that it does rhythm and melody, with Lowe picking out sounds and ideas, and using those as a thematic base, almost like a leitmotif for the damned. Especially curious is the way he treats many of those sounds electronically, twisting and torturing them until they appear to be drawn from Daniel Robitaille himself (the original identity of Candyman).
Charlie Brigden

74. Can –
Live In Brighton 1975
(Mute)
Can follow the release of the excellent Live In Stuttgart with an even more sublime performance from the same year. If I had a time-machine, travelling to gigs like this would be how I'd use it at weekends. Unfortunately I don't, but recordings like this are the next best thing. As the tracks labelled 'Zwei' and 'Vier' especially demonstrate, the band were clearly an uncanny and powerful force live. It is important to note that these live recordings, being released at this point in time is an event unlike the appearance of archival material from any another band. These are not merely good / bad / subpar versions of songs from a band's back catalogue but the raw material of Can itself, honed to its most keen edge for live performance but also without the presence of the conscious-mind (usually Holger Czukay) choosing and editing selections from lengthy rehearsals together as on their LP output. This is Can in their natural environment, as they really should be heard – the group mind expanding out into the infinite cosmos.
Sean Kitching

73. DJ Stryda –
Cream Of Bristol Roots Pirate!
(Tape Echo)

A 90-minute cassette compiled (not DJ'ed) by Sam Stryda of Dubkasm out of his old Bristol pirate radio recordings, specifically from 1994 and of reggae and dub-oriented shows. So as well as tunes, obviously – mostly universal favourites like ‘Police And Thieves’ or ‘Picture On My Wall’ – there’s ad spots for big sounding nights at the Trinity Centre (which Dubkasm sold out days ago at the time of writing – passing down the torch and that) and vibes-over-slick-professionalism selectors enthusing about the music they’re playing, and in one case the recent release from prison of Nelson Mandela. You can probably find lots of old reggae shows online (although, it should be noted, not this one) but the whole presentation of Cream Of Bristol Roots Pirate! feels really special.
Noel Gardner

72. Clint Mansell –
In The Earth (Original Music)
(Invada)
The film In The Earth amplifies its stunning and crazed effects with a remarkable score and sound design, for which composer Clint Mansell, working during lockdown in Los Angeles, attached pads to vegetation using a PlantWave midi sprout machine. And in a web of long creaks, heavy breathing and uncommon bird calls, it’s silence that becomes alienating. When the forest grows quiet, Alma knows they’re being watched. Mansell’s synth score links In The Earth with horror classics like The Fog, They Live or Assault On Precinct 13, where director John Carpenter would himself sit down with a synthesiser to create the music.
Kiran Acharya

71. Various Artists –
Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989
(Dark Entries)
It wouldn't be a round-up of the year's best reissues without a mention for Dark Entries, and this compilation of DIY '80s pop from the Mexican underground music scene underlines just why the label is so loved by so many, offering a perfect 10-track introduction to a sound and scene I'd never have thought of exploring before. After all, as Dark Entries' write-up for the compilation points out, "while synth pop and obscure electronics from Europe and the United States have been extensively documented, much less attention has been paid to such offerings from the periphery." Highlights come in the starry, quintessentially '80s synthpop of Vandana's 'Cambios En El Tiempo' and Década 2's decidedly more moody New Beat-referencing 'Alfabeto (Cold Version)'.
Christian Eede

70. The Sisters Of Mercy –
BBC Sessions 1982 - 1984
(Merciful Release)
The Sisters Of Mercy’s first Peel session in 1982 featured an anaemic ‘Alice’ but a beefy, low-slung ‘Floorshow’ while the most interesting thing about it was the rare and rickety, ‘Good Things’. Everything really comes together for their David ‘Kid’ Jensen session the following year, with electrifying cuts taken mainly from the high watermark Reptile House EP (Spiggy’s inability to hit some of the high notes notwithstanding) and an ‘almost cooked’ cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ thrown in for good measure. Everything nearly ended with a whimper in 1984, thanks to inter-band tensions and escalating drug use, and you can hear it in the death march through plodding singles ‘Walk Away’ and ‘No Time To Cry’. However, the Sisters left Maida Vale for the last time, golden, after finally laying down a studio cover of Hot Chocolate’s ‘Emma’, a brilliant version which shares the same berserk passion as the original and preempts some of Eldritch’s Floodland-era bombastful brilliance.
John Doran

69. Squarepusher –
Feed Me Weird Things (25th Anniversary Edition)
(Warp)
Feed Me Weird Things just reminds me of a very specific time of my life. It fused together so many things I was interested in (jazz, jungle, breakbeat, ambient music, electronica, classical music, programming etc) in a way that was so inspiring and so liberating, because I didn’t think it was possible for all of these things to exist in one place and for it to feel so natural. It’s also quite a dark record, much darker than most of his other ones. ‘UFOs Over Leytonstone’ was a particular turning point in terms of inspiration for my own music, and it’s still a track I return to all the time. I love how it became re-contextualised years later with the release of ‘Tundra 4’. I love that idea of returning to something like that. It must mean that the first version of that track really meant something, or was some kind of blueprint.
Bobby Krlic, AKA The Haxan Cloak

68. Marco Shuttle –
Rhythm Büro Podcast 016
(N/A)
While Marco Sartorelli's latest album, Cobalt Desert Oasis, recently found nestled among our favourite records of the year, saw the DJ and producer explore more reflective fare, this near-two-hour mix, an excerpt from his closing set at Kyiv's Natura festival this past summer is decidedly more pumping. The hypnotic, heads-down approach to percussion from that album remains, but you'll also find bass-heavy techno, menacing TB-303 acid, and '90s rave classics, among much more, as the Italian artist gradually pushes the tempo beyond the 160 BPM mark.
Christian Eede
67. Radiohead –
KID A MNESIA
(XL)
One of the achievements of KID A MNESIA is to give equal footing to the overlooked sibling that is Amnesiac, an album that is, to my mind at least, a more rewarding treasure trove than the sparse but nevertheless sublime Kid A. There is something of the attic to Amnesiac. It's a lost book in a derelict library in a far distant post-literature time. Joining the two albums, you realise how remarkably productive this troubled period of writing and recording was for the band. There are so many astonishing moments but crucially, perhaps through their studies of electronic, classical, jazz and kosmische Musik, they are allowed space to breathe to build. The band learned not just the power of rhythm (evidenced in 'The National Anthem', 'Idioteque', 'Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box' and elsewhere) but the power of restraint and release.
Darran Anderson

66. Various Artists –
Lee Lines (Landscape Mixtape)
(The Department Of Energy)
Assembled quickly, and intentionally left unpolished and unrefined, this mixtape captures the Irish experimental music community in a chrysalis state, transitioning from one year into the next with an act of shared creativity and consciousness. With the Irish landscape as its backdrop, and the immovable deadline of Saint Brigid’s day as its aesthetic prompt, Lee Lines (Landscape Mixtape) proved to be the perfect soundtrack for the start of 2021: one composed by a countrywide community, summoning its own rebirth after a year of uncertainty and separation.
Eoin Murray

65. Bardo Pond –
Amanita (25th Anniversary Edition)
(Matador)
Is Amanita the best Bardo Pond album? We’d advise tracking them all down, just to make sure. Their second studio album, and first for Matador, is certainly a contender for the mushroom-shaped crown. It’s also as good a place to start as any for those yet to discover the Philadelphians’ unrivalled ability to drug their listeners’ ears. The key ingredients are all here. Distortion that’s denser than the kid in the dunce’s cap. Isobel Sollenburger’s floaty vocals (and occasional flute playing). A rhythm section that’s perhaps as stoned as the rest of them. “Hey Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a fish…” Okay, then. They don’t make music as heavy and psychedelic and dimension-splittingly beautiful as this anymore. Well, actually, Bardo Pond do because – thank Piltzintecuhtli! – they’re still going. No one else can match their narcotic, fishy ways.
JR Moores

64. Various Artists –
Sounds Of Pamoja
(Nyege Nyege Tapes)
A sister release to 2017's Sounds Of Sisso compilation, which likely introduced many to Tanzania's frenetic singleli sound, Nyege Nyege Tapes' Sounds Of Pamoja offers a look into Dar es Salaam's other key studio for the genre. As with Sounds Of Sisso, this latest peek into the singeli world is intense, mind-blowing and relentless, as tempos push north of the 200 BPM mark, various chipmunk-like samples waft in and out of the mix, and all kinds of other sounds compete for your attention.
Christian Eede

63. Black Sabbath –
Sabotage Super Deluxe
(BMG)
You get a lot of bang for your buck when opening BMG’s Sabotage Super Delux box set. The LP is newly mastered from tape and the sleeve has been reproduced in that lovely ‘linen’ texture that you get on the original pressing of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. There’s a triple live album, North American Tour Live ‘75, with blazing versions of ‘Supernaut’, ‘Spiral Architect’ and ‘Sabbra Cadabra’ among others. There’s a lovely extra touch in the replica/reissue of the Japanese 7” of ‘Am I Going Insane (Radio)’. There’s a replica 1975 tour poster and a nice reproduction of the tour programme which was on sale at Madison Square Gardens, with great photos (Iommi in full-on LOTR mode, Ozzy on a horse, Geezer appearing out of a hedgerow, Ward in a box car in hobo mode).
John Doran

62. Okyerema Asante –
Drum Message
(Strut / Black Fire)
When the Ghanaian master percussionist Okyerema Asante first met James "Plunky" Branch and Oneness Of Juju during an East coast tour with Hugh Masekela, it was the beginning of an enduring relationship. Recorded at Arrest Studios in Washington D.C. in October 1977, with musicians from Oneness and frequent Gil Scott Heron collaborator Brian Jackson on piano, the album was a heartfelt expression from Assante, who said: "I wanted to project the African spirit in the music and come out with some unique African jazz. To be able to record it on Black Fire was extra special." The reworked Oneness classic 'Follow Me', with bass drum in place of the bass guitar, is one of several standout tracks, along with 'Mother Africa' and 'Never Fly Away From The Funk'. Best of all, however, is the pumping percussive workout 'Play A Sweet Rhythm On Them Drums', whose banging hand drum and whistle introduction serves as a clarion call for feet on the dancefloor. Anyone who can sit through this track without at the very least a tapping of a foot should probably see their doctor ASAP.
Sean Kitching

61. Les Rallizes Dénudés –
Double Heads: Maximum Psychedelic Blues Years
(Not On Label)
I gave in to Double Heads after hearing the version of 'Night Of The Assassins' from August 14, 1980 (which I am pretty sure is also released as the LP Down & Out In Tokyo, but with a wolf whistle from the crowd cut out). It opens with a delicate touch on its perfect bassline; drums that skip like tap shoes on pavements, before the lead guitar erupts, consuming all in a molten electric sludge that covers everything in howling, ash-drenched sonics. I had to have it; I am helpless to resist yet another version of 'The Last One' I might not have heard.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

60. Grand Veymont –
Grand Veymont
(Moon Glyph)
Grand Veymont is the French duo of Béatrice Morel Journel and Josselin Varengo, and the pair's music is a revelation, taking synths and motorik rhythms as a starting point but flying off into something breathtakingly diverse. 'Je cours après avant' begins with shuffling arpeggios before switching into what sounds like a four-handed, four-dimensional organ solo, finally sidestepping into a beautiful vocal ascent.
Daryl Worthington

59. Michèle Bokanowski –
Rhapsodia / Battements Solaires
(Recollection GRM)
The ravishing Rhapsodia / Battements Solaires from Michèle Bokanowski brings together two 17-minute-plus pieces, one from 2018 and the other from a decade earlier and taken from a film by her husband Patrick Bokanowski. Interested in musique concrète from an early age, she studied under Pierre Schaeffer and with Éliane Radigue. But there is considerably more incident in her music when compared to the glacial evolutions of Radigue’s work – the two parts of ‘Rhapsodia’ are built of soft, warm loops, sweeping pads, and feel suffused with golden light. ‘Battements Solaires’ appears at times like it’s channelling solar winds through the listener's speakers, and delivers on the sense of massive cosmic forces at play promised by the title with its deep bass rumbles and evanescent higher tones. Some time later, a brief snatch of crystalline melody appears only to be lost again in the milky immensity.
David McKenna

58. David Tudor –
Monobirds
(Topos)
57. Lovett –
The Night House (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
(Lakeshore)
The Night House, incredibly one of three top-class scores Ben Lovett has composed this past year, is one of those albums that immediately endears itself to you within the first minute. It's a spellbinding opening, with a gorgeous and emotionally rich melody that washes over you, leaving its detritus to be absorbed as the more dread-filled elements begin to play; remaining under the surface as things get gloomier and gloomier, symbolic of at least a shred of hope. The journey feels harder and harder as Lovett's confining soundscape constricts further, but it's certainly worth the effort to see it through.
Charlie Brigden

56. object blue With Kornet –
Rinse FM, 30th October 2021
(N/A)
I missed Kornet's gig at this year's Ljubljana-based Grounded Festival, but the rising Croatian DJ's mix was fortunately featured in one of object blue's recent shows on Rinse FM. I chose it as one of my favourites of 2021 because it is a daring and explorative festival mix, which opens with a mystical 10-minute ouverture that comes across like a spiritual preparation for the incoming sonic onslaught. Kornet's mixing is very dexterous and constantly hands-on. His selection is marked by low-freq pressure, transglobal percussive hyperactivity and heavy dynamics ranging from harsh noise to quasi-sound art. Running at just about 70 minutes, the mix includes 41 tracks by the likes of Slikback, Ziúr, Don Zilla, ABADIR and Nazar as well as less known names like RomanOwitch, Daniel Ruane and KAVARI, to mention a few, skillfully stitched together into a distinct avant-garde dance music tapestry that will propel you into dancefloor contortionism.
Jaša Bužinel
55. PJ Harvey –
Is This Desire?
(Island)
Beyond mere bass sounds, Is This Desire? makes use of drum machines, strings and keys in such a kind of limitless investigation of possibilities. It really feels like someone exploring their sonic potential by utilising the courage of experimentation. I've remained a staunch supporter of PJ Harvey and though I won't say with certainty that the other of her albums have affected me as much as Is This Desire?, I still completely and utterly appreciate her willingness to experiment and reinvent the way she approaches music and record making.
Liars’ Angus Andrew

54. Various Artists –
Zanzibara 10: First Modern Taarab Vibes From Mombasa & Tanga / 1970-1990
(Buda Musique)
After a long absence, the Zanzibara series returned with this stone-cold killer, collecting modern, often electric iterations of taarab from the Southeast African coast. The mixture of accordion (or organ) and electric guitar, keening Swahili-language singing, and loping grooves is both irresistible and otherworldly. Werner Graeber, the scholar behind this essential series, also produced an essential 1989 collection of Tanga taarab with Black Star and Lucky Star Musical Clubs, and this fleshes out that tradition magnificently.
Peter Margasak

53. The Long Blondes –
Someone To Drive You Home: 15th Anniversary Edition
(Rough Trade)
Someone To Drive You Home is one of those records that managed to make the story of a place or situation appear both intensely personal and resoundingly international. Like the gloriously dumb but life-affirming misappropriations of Bridget Riley’s work as OpArt record covers, the Blondes somehow warped their bedsit visions of the pleasure principle into a wider feeling of transnational fun. Someone To Drive You Home is a true pop misappropriation of the title of William Morris’s earnest artisan-socialist book, News From Nowhere: a bulletin board for the lonesome groover. A listener could quickly connect to the record’s lyrics or the manner of their delivery, the atmospheric licks and seedy synths and the simple, steel-beating rhythms. Many bought the same knock-off clothes from Help The Aged or Guide Dogs. Others could just about afford the flimsy guitars and patched up synths the band used.
Richard Foster

52. Darwin –
Dekmantel Podcast 351
(N/A)
Canadian DJ Darwin's entry to the Dekmantel podcast series is a dizzying exploration of bass-heavy club sounds that runs through various tempos with ease. Her sets have long seen her champion dubstep and wider 140 bass pressure, and this mix is no different as the Latin club flavours of the early stages eventually give way to screwface-inducing dark garage, classic dubstep (Skream remixing Pinch, Appleblim) and swampy jungle.
Christian Eede
51. Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy –
Blind Date Party
(Drag City)
To pass the time and stave off insanity during the last two years’ many periods of stasis, two of America’s greatest modern songwriters, Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, have been churning out some extraordinary cover songs. Through their label Drag City, they reached out to a sea of different musicians, from Meg Baird to Ty Segall, Six Organs Of Admittance to George Xylouris, and worked on covers of whatever songs meant the most to their collaborator. The result is a delightful record that glows with passion for the craft of song, the undeniable peak of which is a heart-wrenching take on Silver Jews’ masterpiece ‘The Wild Kindness’ featuring late frontman David Berman’s widow Cassie and backing vocals from many of the record’s other collaborators.
Patrick Clarke

50. SHERELLE –
fabric presents
(fabric)
An absolute tour de force in current 160 BPM and jungle music, SHERELLE sums up exactly why she’s often spoken about in such breathless terms on this contribution to the fabric presents compilation series. It’s a mix that barely lets up as the UK DJ nods to the greats and the new school of the scenes in which she has made her name, with classic cuts from the likes of Cloud9 and DJ Rashad rubbing up next to upcoming, well-respected figures such as AceMo, Kush Jones and Tim Reaper. What’s more, she also gives one of her own early forays into production a runout, in the form of the hulking, ape-raving banger ‘JUNGLE TEKNAH’.
Christian Eede

49. John Coltrane –
A Love Supreme Live In Seattle
(Impulse!)
To suggest that a newly discovered live recording of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is a significant event for jazz scholars and Coltrane devotees is something of an understatement. Since its release in 1965, the work has accrued both mythic status and mystic heft. The pristine, 33-minute suite is divided into four parts – the modal invocation of 'Acknowledgement', the heavily swinging hard bop pieces 'Resolution' and 'Pursuance', and the concluding hymnal 'Psalm' – which, together, form one of the most perfectly realised and beautifully self-contained statements in 20th century western art.
Daniel Spicer

48. Chris Carter –
Electronic Ambient Remixes One & Three
(Mute)
While the tracks on Volume Three are built around rhythm, Carter retains much of the timbral density and interest of the first volume of remixes. This third volume is more mobile and disorientating, but no less beautiful for it. Consider ‘Still Talking’, almost unrecognisable from its Throbbing Gristle counterpart save for the sort of tremolo pulse that holds it together. The result is hectic and troubling, and seems to have captured something of the nature of worry itself. The intensity rises towards the final three tracks, a cluster of macabre brilliance. The remix of ‘Hamburger Lady’, here called ‘Hamburger Man’, is the energetic and unstable soundtrack that all contemporary, pompous horror films now try to copy.
Johnny Lamb

47. Joseph Nechvatal –
Selected Sound Works 1981–2021
(Pentiments)
Over the last half-century, Nechvatal’s Zelig-like career in the arts has taken him from working as La Monte Young’s archivist and squatting in Laurie Anderson’s building in Lower Manhattan to the Documenta festival in Kassel and the Lascaux Caves deep in the Dordogne. He’s worked with Jenny Holzer and Rhys Chatham, studied with Roy Ascott and Arthur Danto, and published his own work in almost every conceivable medium. In 1983, he founded Tellus, an audio magazine for the sonic arts, produced on cassette, and featuring, over its decade-long run, contributions from Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, Wharton Tiers, Julius Eastman, Ellen Fullman, Christian Marclay, Woody Vasulka, Alison Knowles, and many, many more. In later years, he became a pioneer of virtual reality and artificial life, making work for concert halls, poetry imprints, and art galleries inspired by the likes of Antonin Artaud and Virginia Woolf. A new tape compilation for Chicago’s Pentiments Records, Selected Sound Works (1981–2021), spans his career.
Robert Barry
46. Hood –
The Hood Tapes
(Acuarela)
The Hood that went on tour in 2005 was a far slicker operation than the ramshackle knitwear-clad troupe that emerged in a squall of feedback a decade and a half earlier. Their latest album at the time,Outside Closer showcased their highest production values to date, with trademark dissonant arpeggios and drowsily half-whispered vocals now augmented by deft electronic programming and rousing orchestral strings. But they were also a band on the skids, who hated touring and didn’t know how to live up to the expectations created by their acclaimed 2001 album Cold House. By 2006, they had announced their hiatus. The Hood Tapes, a collection of scrappy takes apparently assembled in a hurry from home recordings to sell on that tour, is closer to their earlier lo-fi sound, scrappy and tentative, but the jittery ‘Winter Politics’ is as catchy as any of the late material.
Robert Barry

45. Depeche Mode –
101
(Mute)
The energetic nature of 101 is one of its greatest strengths, the portrait of a Young Band and Slightly Younger Fans basically having a time together even though they don't interact all that much, the band more on the grind and sometimes showing it, the kids out for a party. But it's also the portrait of it being an American fanbase that's key. More than once I have heard from friends in the UK who are of my age that at that time when 101 came out, they literally could not believe that Depeche Mode of all bands had apparently turned into this huge arena-filling monster over in the US. The band had long continued on from their early eighties breakout but the images and the styles that were most associated with from those days had never quite been shaken, at least up until that point.
Ned Raggett

44. DJ Sprinkles –
Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-Inches & One-Offs
(Comatonse)

Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits sees Terre Thaemlitz collect much of her Comatonse output beyond 2009's seminal Midtown 120 Blues album into one vital collection. This is some of the finest deep house released over the last 23 years and a great introduction to Thaemlitz's work as DJ Sprinkles if you’re looking to get acquainted. Highlights come particularly in the closing run of cuts as the serene 'Meditation On Wage Labour And The Death Of The Album (Sprinkles' Unpaid Overtime)' rolls into the breezy 'Kissing Costs Extra' and eventually to one of Thaemlitz's crowning glories on record, for me at least: the spellbinding 'Admit It's Killing You (And Leave) (Sprinkles' Dead End)'.
Christian Eede

43. Various Artists –
Essiebons Special: 1973 - 1984 Ghana Music Power House
(Analog Africa)
A tribute to the great Ghanaian producer Dick Essilfie-Bondzie, Essiebons Special collects some of the greatest funk, highlife and afrobeat music he released through his towering Essiebons label during a particularly rich period in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a number of prime unreleased cuts from the vaults that he uncovered during a lockdown spent digitising his enormous back catalogue. Sadly, the producer died before the album could be released, and it only scratches the surface of his influence, but it makes a fitting tribute to his brilliance all the same.
Patrick Clarke

42. Various Artists
Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume Two (Germany)
(Finders Keepers)
Given that the appearance of a little sticker containing the abbreviation ‘NWW’ can take an old vinyl LP and render it prohibitively expensive and the fact that a lot of modern compilation albums are simply a churn of tracks already available elsewhere, it’s really good news that Strain Crack & Break exists. Stephen Stapleton’s Ur-hipster inventory is in good hands with the folk at Finders Keepers who at no point give in to the obvious commercial temptation of including Can’s ‘Vitamin C’ or Neu!’s ‘Für Immer’, instead choosing to plumb richer and weirder depths. Slap it on the platter, turn the lights down, turn the volume up, lie down on the couch and prepare to have your mind expanded.
John Doran

41. Hawthonn –
Vulva Caelestis
(Larkfall)
Everyone’s favourite cosmic occult Marxist wife and husband duo, Hawthonn, were busy this year; not just with their excellent new Earth Mirror album but also this collection of unreleased and otherwise hard to find tracks. ‘Pan Laws’ features a reverberant turn from Herb Diamante who has plenty of advice to those wishing to witchify their lives: “Cast spells in the woods… reclaim the land… play music to luminaries… imbibe wine and mushrooms!” Elsewhere ‘Vespertilionidae’ features ultrasonic bat sonar, there are songs recorded in the resonant recesses of stone churches, and the range travels from the more typically and splendidly Hawthonnian ‘The Curse (PYAX JWA)’ to the aqueous cave fusion of ‘Bright Waters’.
John Doran

40. Rakta & DEAFKIDS –
Live At Sesc Pompéia
(Rapid Eye)
Rakta and DEAFKIDS are the two outliers of the Brazilian heavy psych scene right now, two caterwauling tornadoes of sound that, on Live At Sesc Pompéia combine into something even more thrilling than the sum of their parts. It’d be understandable, perhaps even expected, for this joint performance recorded in 2019 to be simply an explosion of noise, but what’s most telling about the record is its razor-sharp refinement, their commitment to full-throttle groove and rhythm. Guitars can gnash and wail at the end of their leash, but they’re never allowed to fly off the handle. The album swings on a perfect axis between restraint and release, thrilling tension building to sledgehammer hits of pure power.
Patrick Clarke

39. Anz –
Spring/Summer Dubs 2021
(Self-Released)

Now into its third year, Anz’s annual Spring/Summer Dubs collections never disappoint, seeing the UK DJ and producer offer up a variety of tempos and sub-genres within the club music sphere. 2021’s entry to the series takes in 18 still unreleased productions from the artist, and sees her move through airy breakbeat and ‘80s freestyle-referencing electro, percussive cuts and warped garage, and even a touch of tasteful donk and ghettotech. Hopefully 2022 will see the individual release of some of these tracks.
Christian Eede

38. Unsound –
Intermission
(Unsound)
A musical time capsule, it’s this distillation of the year gone by which makes Unsound Intermission such a special document, and not just another ramshackle compilation. By collating broadcasts from some of our greatest compositional minds in such a cohesive way, it’s music which seems destined to acquire potency as it ages, as these pieces become vignettes from a time we hope will one day feel quite distant.
Liam Inscoe-Jones

37. New Life –
Visions of the Third Eye
(Early Future)
This record is turned from a good one to an epochal one with the avant-guitar playing of Brandon Ross. The bastard riffs and freewheeling fingerpicking of the New Jersey guitarist are liminal and hypnagogic. On the Wertman-written ‘Egypt Rock’, he begins with a monolithic riff, before proceeding to a freewheeling fingerpicking frenzy that glides with great agility around Reid’s tubthumping bombast, whilst a cameo from violinist Terry Jenoure fills the soundscape with a haunting hymenoptera buzz. Ross’ playing is totally free of structural rigidity, but I think the most notable aspect of it is its intimacy. A lot of the tones are muted, a lot it quiet, but each pluck is a pontilist dab of the paintbrush on a painting you can’t help but marvel at.
Cal Cashin

36. Sexual Harassment –
I Need A Freak
(Dark Entries)

35. Spiritualized –
Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
(Fat Possum)
There is nothing of 1997, or any year, in its sound – the music so big and so bold that the Gregorian Calendar pales in insignificance. Those who heard the record on its release, too, commented on its timelessness. “The work of a man who, having assimilated an army of influences […] has managed to create an entirely new noise out of the wreckage,” said NME’s Paul Moody in his review. Even the cover, in its homage to the simple and unchanging design of prescription medicine, hasn’t dated the way the art for its predecessor Pure Phase has, for example. Upon its reissue, the third in Fat Possum Records’ ongoing series of 180g double vinyl remasters, it still seems to operate in a dimension apart from such petty concerns as legacy and nostalgia. It’s a sublime remaster, the record’s dynamic peaks and troughs more dramatic than ever. The mass of instrumentation, from the subtlest whirling synth line to the most seismic tsunami of sound, are finely balanced like the interlacing orbits of a solar system. With this little sonic touch-up, the music still sounds entirely fresh.
Patrick Clarke

34. Various Artists –
Duppy Vaulted (2011 - 2021)
(Duppy Gun)
This latest Duppy Gun drop has been firing me up, big time. I'm properly stuck on these cuts from the vaults – 19 tracks that never made their way onto official releases. Cameron Stallones and M. Geddes Gengras are easily identifiable on the buttons in places, particularly on tracks like standout opener 'Snapbacks' by MC I Jahbar with Big Flyte and Velkro. (Killer MCs with Sun Araw-ish bloops and wibbles is basically my dream musical project). Elsewhere Lupo goes for a more heads-down shuffle; G Sudden gets a gnarly stripped back riddim to tear up, and Sniper ducks and weaves around a weird and friable groove.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

33. Shovel Dance Collective / C Joynes –
Betwixt & Between 7
(Betwixt & Between Tapes)
A split folk release by Cambridge guitarist C. Joynes and political nine-piece Shovel Dance Collective makes for an interesting contrast. The former’s playing is deft and delicate, effective via the gentlest of touches, while Shovel Dance play in overwhelming waves. The voices of Mataio Austin Dean – an intense rumbling drone on ‘My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him’ – and Nick Granata’s gorgeously emotive sweep on ‘The Foggy Dew’, are both utterly stunning albeit in completely different ways, while the playing of the rest of the collective swings from one sublime emotional extreme to another.
Patrick Clarke

32. Space Afrika –
RA.772
(N/A)
Space Afrika’s entry to Resident Advisor’s mix series shares some headspace with 2020’s standout hybtwibt? mixtape from the Manchester duo, mostly in its collage-like quality. Over the course of 75 minutes, they roll through various mostly beatless pieces of music, from Claire Rousay’s peculiar ASMR-esque pieces to a more than decade-old Burial radio rip. It also takes in various new works and reworks of their own, and provides a great companion to their breathtaking album from this year, Honest Labour.
Christian Eede
31. 4Mars –
Super Somali Sounds From The Gulf Of Tadjoura
(Ostinato)
The archives of East African studios Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD) were opened to Ostinato Records in 2019, revealing something of a treasure trove. Their first record off the back of this opportunity is this anthology of Somali large ensemble dance music. You could say that the overarching vibe is one of low slung but dancefloor-orientated funk reggae but that would ignore the incredible richness of a sound that effortlessly includes nods to Ethio-jazz and Turkish disco, not to mention Bollywood, Yemeni and Egyptian pop.
John Doran

30. Beatriz Ferreyra –
CANTO+
(Room40)
Each piece on Canto+ exhibits a painstaking attention to detail: every bounce and pluck and hum feels expertly placed, and it’s evident that Ferreyra is as comfortable creating buoyancy as she is liminality. ‘Étude aux sons flegmatiques’ features sparse ringing that floats in a distant background as haunted sounds murmur underneath, while ‘Canto del Loco’ opens the album with bouncy shooting stars that ripple across layers of robotic chimes. The music easily transforms from bright timbres to forlorn rumination, even with just a few notes.
Vanessa Ague

29. Joseph Spence –
Encore: Unheard Recordings Of Bahamian Guitar And Singing
(Smithsonian Folkways)
The hugely influential Joseph Spence was a master of the guitar, that much is more than clear on this compilation of Bahamian songs recorded in 1965. He’s deft and spirited, dazzling when he wants to be but never loses track of an overriding sense of playfulness and joy. His singing, though, is equally remarkable, a gruff and grumbling voice that’s as transfixing in its soulful moments as it is when he’s muttering along to licks of guitar. 37 years after his death, Spence’s music still sounds completely singular.
Patrick Clarke

28. Kling Klang –
The Esthetik Of Destruction
(Tenement)
Listening now to the reissue of The Esthetik Of Destruction, re-released by Tenement Records with some striking collage cover art by Gavin O’Brien, the music sounds like it could have been made yesterday or tomorrow. Maybe it’s because many of the heavy synth bands of that time have since faded away and Kling Klang appear more of a monolith now. Maybe it’s because they seem even more cleansing in an age of production gimmickry. I get the feeling it’s because of an abiding sense of unfinished business, a sense that the journey they were on was abruptly and unfairly curtailed. You could say that, flirting with chaos and misadventure, the tension and release that comes with almost falling apart, there was always a risk that the band would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Yet Kling Klang were also subject to an excess of misfortune. There’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy, and it doesn’t take much to tip laugh out loud stories of exploding equipment, enraged sound engineers, and a mysterious manager called The Doctor into grim tales of drug dependency, debts and death.
Darran Anderson

27. Arthur Russell –
World Of Echo
(Rough Trade)
Listening to Arthur Russell, specifically World Of Echo, put all my worries to rest. It was like, 'OK, no, I can actually, I can do whatever the hell I want to do because this other person has done it and it's proved that you don't need to choose between pop and experimental music. You don't need to choose between instrumental and singing. You really can do it all.' Arthur Russell also put my mind at ease because he showed me I could use effects without effects being there to hide your flaws or your inability to do something properly.
Colleen

26. Tchiss-Lopes –
Já Bô Corre D'Mim
(Arabusta)
Tchiss Lopes left Cape Verde in 1980 and wound up in Rome, finally securing a job as a wiper on a cargo ship. It wouldn’t take long for the former professional footballer to recognise that a sailor’s life was not, in fact, for him. But the experience did give him a global view of contemporary pop music – as well as a new found appreciation of Cape Verde’s own dance sounds. In 1984, hooking up with fellow Cape Verdean musicians, Zé António on guitar, Bebethe on bass and Alírio on drums, he recorded Já Bô Corre D’Mim a thrilling if at times melancholy fusion of reggae, disco, Brazilian funk, funaná, and kizomba. Before Milan’s Arabusta Records re-issued the cut in November, copies used to sell on Discogs for around £200. But a record this infectious is worth every penny.
Robert Barry

25. Regis –
Let The Night Return
(DNS-Essex)
It's fair to say that in a time when we were starved for the thrill of live music, most of the virtual replacements proved a poor substitute, with most home-recorded live streams and so on like the worst soggy tofu standing in for a glorious hand-chopped steak tartare. Let The Night Return, a new performance film meets live album and fancy book by Karl 'Regis' O'Connor, marks an exception to this rule. The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in Peloponnese has been hosting varied entertainments in its gracefully curving stonework since the fourth century BC. Still known for its incredible acoustic qualities, it can hold 14,000 people, though an audience of none was present for the recording of O'Connor's film, beautifully shot by Vasileios Trigkas in June 2019. The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus was part of a complex devoted to Asclepius, Greek god of medicine, and it was believed that attending performances there could have a beneficial effect on the health of those present – that this socially-distanced, zero audience gig in a medically resonant historic site was filmed long before the COVID-19 crisis is a curious twist of fate.
Luke Turner

24. GNOD –
Easy To Build, Hard To Destroy
(Rocket)
They may be spheres apart but it’s curious to weigh up dire, uncle-who-microdoses-now “jam bands” such as Phish with the legitimacy of those whose jamming means long shifts and likely thought transference in the feverish pursuit of ecstasy. As Easy To Build, Hard To Destroy shows, the latter quest has hinged on two core tenets for Gnod over the years: doing it and doing it a lot. “Most weekends from Friday to Sunday we were in the rehearsal room together,” the band recently recalled. “[We were] experimenting with equipment, setting up mad pedal chains, plugging things into other things and just plain old jamming.” As peaks here, like the hysterical, sax-mangled ‘Deadbeatdisco!!! Part 1 & 2’, fully attest, with the right heads and intent at hand, plain old jamming can go an exceptionally long way.
Brian Coney

23. Various Artists –
La Ola Interior (Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983 - 1990)
(Bongo Joe)
The 12 acts collected here are very much the product of affordable synths and compact recording techniques. A light is shone on a scene which drifted between Berlin School type ambience, clanky industrial and loop-based proto-techno music, largely distributed via a DIY cassette network (the Spaniards seem to have stuck with tapes quite a bit into the ‘90s, when the original cassette culture had otherwise vanished) and mainly contained within the country’s borders. Esplendor Geométrico, inspired by the likes of Throbbing Gristle, were more internationalist in their reach than most of their peers (their first tape, in 1982, was released on a German label). While they still exist today, this comp’s ‘Sheikh’ dates from 1988 and is equally tribalistic and hauntological, to the extent one can ever pin down such terms. They’re the only name here to also feature on La Ola Interior’s sort-of prequel La Contra Ola, released in 2018 and compiling Spanish synthpop, post-punk and new wave from 1980-86; EG’s relatively accessible side is represented in both cases.
Noel Gardner

22. Objekt –
All Night @ Nowadays, NYC
(Self-Released)
Listening to a full near-nine-hour set might take some commitment, but in the case of this recording of Objekt’s recent all-night set at New York club Nowadays, it’s certainly a rewarding experience. Starting on a raft of sparse, introductory cuts (for example, Autechre’s remix of Seefeel’s ‘Spangle’), the recording offers a chance to listen in as one of the world’s most technically gifted DJs, and best selectors, guides a dancefloors through various peaks and troughs. Running through peak-time and on towards a volley of killer D&B and jungle bangers, the closing hour is when the recording really hits its sweet spots as the DJ runs through various chuggers and more reflective pieces for the hardened dancers that remained. His own story of how the night went is very much worth a read while you give the mix a listen.
Christian Eede
21. Tiziano Popoli –
Burn The Night / Bruciare La Notte (Original Recordings)
(Freedom To Spend)
Many of the tracks found on Burn The Night / Bruciare La Notte have something rough and ready about them; elements that are swiftly assembled and presented, both for maximum effect and as a way of capturing the essence of the creative impulse. Fun to play, or to clear your head out while you burn up the night, in other words. Opening track ‘Twist’ reveals itself as a montage of chopped up voices, the cadences and pitches hacked and hustled into a brisk rhythm. These vocal clips morph into the sort of humanoid bleeps that could have been made by contemporaries such as Mantronix or Jean Michel Jarre, as well as the cut ups of more academic sound artists. Tracks like ‘Twist’ and the mysterious title track also betray a distinct feeling of the brashness of the 1980s: all those bold colours, programmed beats and angular shapes, sound and sonic imagery there to shock and sell the latest upgrade in Western pop culture.
Richard Foster

20. Various Artists –
Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1
(Analog Africa)
There is something incredibly vibrant to these recordings. The songs are tight and constructed around a repeating, almost droning riff. These aren’t dark or ominous drones. Instead, they are filled with life and ecstatic energy. Take ‘Obviemama’ by Sir Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis or ‘Who No Man’ by Osayomore Joseph and the Ulele Power Sound for example. They sound massive. The verses are sung over these bouncy drones until the chorus. Then the main motif is changed and elongated before the band slot back into the original groove again and just play for all their worth.
Nick Roseblade

19. Aastiage –
1996/2000
(Zabte Sote)
Aastiage is the duo Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar and Shadi Ziaei, and 1996/2000 compiles tracks they recorded over those years while they were both living in San Francisco. According to Ebtekar, the project aimed to reunite lyrical content with electronic music, creating genuine electronic pop instead of dance music with acapella vocals over the top. As Sote, Ebtekar has released a stunning sprawl of zeitgeist twisting music over the last two decades, and it’s fascinating getting access to these tracks and hearing another angle on his work. There’s a nocturnal warmth suffusing these songs which brings to mind the vibe found on Leslie Winer’s ‘Witch’, while the music constantly feels like it’s straining at the boundaries of what a pop song is. ‘Flesh & Blood’’s beat and synth bass funk seems like it’s constantly trying to shuffle off into a new plane. ‘Just Fine’ sits somewhere between industrial and trip hop, slithers of distortion adding a layer of blistered harmony. Ziaei is the perfect foil for Sote, her gorgeous vocals somewhere between dreamy shoegaze bliss and post-grunge angst, while her guitar playing has a ruthless efficiency. She ends up a powerful centre of soulful gravity, so that even when ‘Color A Dream’ throws in a barrage of beat jumps and twists, it’s never able to override the melodic heart.
Daryl Worthington

18. Hailu Mergia And The Walias –
Tezeta
(Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Tezeta captures the great Ethiopian organist Hailu Mergia and his band performing at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa during their 1970s residency there. After the authoritarian Derg regime took power in the country in 1974 and swiftly banned much live music performance, thanks in part to its American owners and well-connected guests the hotel became a refuge for live music and creativity. This tape, long-considered lost until its Analog Africa reissue, was recorded by the band during their downtime in the hotel, and finds them at the peak of their creative powers.
Patrick Clarke

17. Batu –
Radio 1’s Essential Mix
(N/A)
Batu is one of the UK’s very best DJs right now, having blown me away on club and festival dancefloors on umpteen occasions in recent years – most recently London’s inaugural Waterworks festival this past summer. His debut Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 goes some way to summing up why, expertly capturing his forward-thinking brand of bass-heavy music and ear for tight mixing. Across two hours, he brings together a number of the UK’s best upcoming club music producers in Metrist, Bruce, Lurka and himself with a wide global cast of figures pushing myriad forms of electronic music forward, whether that’s Lyra Pramuk, DJ SWISHA, Kush Jones, Jay Mitta, Siete Catorce, or a whole host of others.
Christian Eede
16. Faust –
1971-1974
(Bureau B)
There’s an abundance of unreleased music, mostly recorded in Wümme, stretched across two albums called Momentaufnahme, or snapshot. If the eclecticism of The Faust Tapes is your bag, then here is essentially tapes two and three, full of infernal jams, freaktronica, tempestuous beats and swoonsome classical guitar licks. Listen to the thundering breakbeat and white noise of ‘Vorsatz’ on side two of Momentaufnahme I, or the Velvets-like psychedelic wig out of ‘Rückwärts Durch Die Drehtür’ at the end of that same album, and wonder at how they could have so easily discarded these tracks with such potential. But then none of it feels superfluous; all of it needs to be explored and reexamined, either right now or at a later date. And the same too could be said for Punkt, which, delivered half a century late, only adds to the Faustian mythos.
Jeremy Allen

15. William Parker –
Migration Of Silence Into And Out Of The Tone World
(Centering)
This is music with aspirations beyond any boundaries. Never mind genre bracketing, this is work that gleefully tramples the fences we generally use to divide art forms. One disc (Lights In The Rain) features a suite of compositions inspired by and dedicated to Italian film directors. Poems are deployed as lyrics in some places, cited as inspirational source texts in others. Jo Wood-Brown’s paintings (appearing on the cover and in the booklet) of migrant workers have been chosen carefully, and two pages of the booklet are devoted to her work. Different disciplines seep into one another: Parker associates tones with colours, sounds with imagery, notes with poetry. The end results are less music than a kind of magic.
Angus Batey

14. One More Grain –
Swirling In The Backyard: Volume 2 / Sulawesi
(Gunung)
The individual volume names and covers of Swirling In The BackyardLaos covering his solo work and Sulawesi that of One More Grain – also hint at other, unmapped transitory states of existence that Quinn likes to invoke. Laos and Sulawesi refer to the locations of the mysterious ancient stone jars featured on the sleeves. Doubtless Quinn has mapped them on his travels. Jars, of course, often held grave goods that spoke of “memories, all packed into one time” and offered support in the journeys those departed from this world had yet to negotiate. Other states are suggested to the listener through Quinn’s assertion that he “rarely records without some beer or wine to help multiply the number of illusory choices.” A number of the One More Grain tracks found on both volumes of Swirling In The Backyard suggest this forcibly; especially the live cuts ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and ‘Tropical Mother-In-Law’, and the gloriously ragged take of ‘Leg Stomper’ we find on Sulawesi. These are ones where the listener can easily picture the damp fug of whisky and beer seeping into the amp cables and loosening the instrument strings.
Richard Foster

13. Overmono –
fabric presents
(fabric)
Overmono’s entry into the fabric presents series is the Russell brothers at their very best, distilling various headsy dance music classics and a healthy dose of some of the best new music you could hope to hear in a club of a weekend evening into a sharp 65-minute mix. It’s a mix that sees them move through various gears when it comes to tempo and sub-genre, as loopy ‘90s techno from DJ Zank and Surgeon & James Ruskin early into the mix ultimately give way to rude bass tracks from LCY and Vex’d, killer D&B cuts from Orca and Ed Rush & Optical, and the sumptuous melodies of recent Blawan cut ‘Fourth Dimensional’ in the mix’s dying moments. There’s also a healthy dose of their own recent club cuts, and when they’re as good as ‘So U Kno’ and ‘BMW Track’, that’s certainly no bad thing.
Christian Eede

12. Various Artists –
Do You Have The Force? (Jon Savage's Alternate History Of Electronica 1978-82)
(Caroline True)
Amongst out and out bangers like the 12” edit of Harry Thurmann’s ‘Underwater’, Jon Savage teases out the points at which the head music impulse in electronic music becomes more sophisticated. All phased percussion and ambient funk, I can still hear ideas from ‘Steam Away’ by Flying Lizards (from their still under-regarded 1981 album Fourth Wall) being mined as recently as this week on the new Virginia Wing album. BGM’s ‘And’ swaggers brilliantly, whilst Rayon Laser’s ‘Funky Meteor’ does little of what it says on the tin with a stern, futuristic mood piece.
Fergal Kinney
11. Seefeel –
Rupt + Flex (1994 - 96)
(Warp)
Rupt + Flex collates Seefeel's recordings from '94 to '96: two brilliant EPs (Starethrough and Fractured/Tied), their second and third albums Succour and (Ch-Vox) (the latter released on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex imprint) and a host of rarities and unreleased tracks, including an Autechre remix of 'Spangle'. It's not their full Warp history, since they returned in 2010 with an excellent, eponymous album, but it marks the point where Mark Clifford in particular became both absorbed by the possibilities offered by digital tools and, in the time-honoured tradition of the production obsessive, disenchanted with touring and promotional duties. Succour and its associated bonus tracks, remastered by Pole (Stephen Betke), are full of chest cavity-probing bass and gleaming, metallic percussion – especially striking on the likes of 'When Face Was Face' and the imperious 'Vex' – highly sculpted, digitally buffed textures from indeterminate sources (occasionally a guitar is recognisable), and Sarah Peacock's by-then almost evaporating vocals. And there are constants from the Quique era, such as the Aphex-like drones and the dub chassis that so much of their work rests on.
David McKenna

10. Jaimie Branch –
FLY Or DIE LIVE
(International Anthem)
Touring has turned Fly Or Die into a working band, and that sound is captured on FLY Or DIE LIVE. Released in May, the double album complements and surpasses its predecessors. Taped in Zurich shortly before COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, it finds the band on inspired form. Jaimie Branch has truly come into her own as a bandleader, adding soulful vocals and charismatic spiels to her brilliant trumpet playing. ‘Prayer For Amerikkka Pt 1 & 2’ is positively charged, going from a slow stalking blues to a Morricone western storm. The more abstract and drone-based pieces are radically expanded, reflecting a group of musicians who are totally at one in their collective explorations.
Stewart Smith

9. Bulbils –
Blue Forty
(Blue Tapes)
This really does capture something of our shared experience, the alarming isolation of our friends – or ourselves – the loss of family time, young dads separated from newborns, childless couples losing their patience with broken parents because it’s fucking hard for them too, the denial, the hypocrisy, the utter cruelty of how we have sometimes treated each other. But then the kindness, the community spirit, the support through grief, the gifted work-time gin and tonics on middle-class balconies. All this while we watch despots, thieves, liars, and corrupt officials thrash around their fiscal woes across the globe. We compare everything that disgruntles us with Nazism from both sides of the political spectrum. The project of Woke was turned into a pejorative so fast that all discourse descends immediately into online bickering and omnidirectional calls for cancellation. Oh, and sourdough. It has been, and remains a deeply troubling time, where we see the worst and the best in ourselves. Inevitably, there will be lots of lockdown art made. Inevitably, we’ll be super cynical about all of it. But, if my previous paragraph chimes with anyone, it will hopefully underscore the emotional need for a beautifully indulgent 40-minute space rock jam. Thank you, Bulbils. As we continue to hurtle through a world that openly lies to us, where we attack each other from safe anonymous social media accounts, where we send death threats to doctors for trying to vaccinate us, the chance to be lost in a repeating major key riff is like being handed a Valium and told to take the day off. I genuinely welcome this release and the time I’ve spent with it. Just Sally Pilkington’s chuckle at the end of the opening track is balm to the noise of our current lives.
Johny Lamb

8. Various Artists –
Tresor 30
(Tresor)
At its best, a Tresor Records release completely takes you over and reprograms your cultural receptors to the point where you don’t just find yourself thinking “this is the best shit ever,” you’re in the zone of “I am never going to listen to any other type of music again.” I guess that’s the rave mentality in effect – like, doubtless all kinds of music can induce it in different people, but something about being hours deep into a ripper techno club night really brings that feeling to the surface. Right? I tangibly caught it a few times while listening to Tresor 30, which I have not been doing in a club but which, at around five hours, lasts as long as you might expect a visit to a club to. (Non-British and/or well-travelled techno consumers might consider this the observation of someone living under the yoke of misery guts UK licensing laws – and they’d be right.) An immense undertaking, combining classic tracks from this Berlin label’s back catalogue and new, specially recorded ones from contemporary producers continuing its legacy, it’s by no means wall-to-wall bangers and doesn’t attempt any ‘story of a night out’ type overarching, although the sequencing is at times worthy of praise in itself. The physical version is a box containing a dozen 12-inch records, meaning that the final three tracks of 52 (!) – Carlota’s ‘Breakfast On The Moon’, ‘Deep Mid’ by Torus and Mareena & JakoJako’s ‘30 Perlen’, all varyingly calm and ambient – sit on Side X.
Noel Gardner

7. Grauzone –
40 Years Anniversary Box Set
(We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want)
Regardless of context, Grauzone are still in many pop mythologies a band that appeared and then disappeared, leaving four singles (one posthumous) and one great album in their wake. With the singer living in a hut up a Swiss mountain. This is the sort of story that can, in the current climate, allow itself a number of sequels with the same material. The original LP had been re-released ten years previously but now, with the masters in the possession of Stephen Eicher, it appears again as an extended anniversary edition in a box set format, full of tantalising Xerox art and with a live gig from 1980 in tow, released on the very aptly named, (for Grauzone), We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want. What can be heard when live tape and album are played in chronological order, is a band completely reforming and remodelling itself as a concept. The bonus live gig, recorded at Gaskessel in Bern on April 12, 1980, is very loose and very enjoyable; merely because it feels “alive,” human, and at the mercy of chance. Plus there are tracks you would never associate with Grauzone if your introduction was ‘Eisbär’ or ‘Moskau’. The band rip through a set of numbers that never make their legendary LP with aplomb. Power chords slash and jab through these overheated art punk tracks, making a great counterpoint to some fevered, attempted on-the-one beats and hollered repeat choruses. This really is performance punk, hammered into shape on the creative anvil there and then. Tracks like ‘I Live In A Jungle’ are messy, arty and glam racket yelpalongs. Stripping away another layer of the Grauzone myth we find that most of the numbers are howled out in English. The band, then, sounds more like a punk Palais Schaumberg or a chaotic Subway Sect than the Ice Men of legend. And there is more than a nod now and again, however ill-formed or wayward, to The Velvet Underground, though we do get a recognisable album track in ‘Moskau’ and the opening ‘Grauzone’.
Richard Foster

6. Special Interest –
Trust No Wave
(Disciples)
Trust No Wave reminds me of when I first started going to indie clubs. I’d wade on to the dancefloor to be with my friends. It was all bouncy and gleeful. Then the song changed and something harder would come on. My friends would disappear. I’d be stuck either in the mosh or next to the slam dancers. Throughout the duration of the song, I’d be getting it on all sides, then at the end my musical tormentors would pat me on the back, and we’d walk off together. The aggression was left on the dancefloor. It was exhilarating. This is how I feel after Trust No Wave finishes. It’s aggressive in places, but not malicious. At no point do you feel threatened during its 20-minute runtime. The real joy to Trust No Wave is that Special Interest are still active and releasing music that is as good as their searing 2016 demo. 2018’s Spiraling and 2020’s The Passion Of showed they have grown musically but still possess that special quality that made their original demo such a delight in the first place. Not a lot of bands can say that, and that’s why they still deserve our special interest.
Nick Roseblade

5. Various Artists –
Now Thing 2
(Chrome)
Dancehall rhythms were an ever-present in UK electronic music throughout 2021 as numerous producers sought to build on the ‘techno dancehall’ framework that Mr. Mitch coined in 2018. Now Thing 2, a compilation compiled by Felix Hall, producer Richard Browne and Lil’ Toby, looked back further though to some of the turn-of-the-century dancehall riddims that have inspired new producers probing the sound today, with the sounds featured across the record spanning nearly two decades. Following up on the release of the first instalment of the Now Thing series for the Mo Wax label in 2001, Now Thing 2 presents a journey through the minimalist, bass-heavy instrumentals that light up the dancehall floors that DJs like Felix Hall play on today, from the hypnotically repetitive ‘Heart Attack’ from Dave Kelly to the sub-shattering, canine-sampling sounds of veteran producers Lenky and Andrew Thomas’ ‘Bad Mongrell’.
Christian Eede

4. Sunn O))) –
Metta, Benevolence: BBC 6Music Live On The Invitation Of Mary Anne Hobbs
(Southern Lord)
Unsurprisingly, this live document isn’t Sunn O)))’s first rodeo. They have amassed an archive of over 130 concert recordings captured throughout the course of their career. So many, in fact, that they had to start a dedicated Bandcamp page just to cater for their live output. Hell, this isn’t even their first BBC recording at Maida Vale. Back in ’04 they were invited to perform on one of the final Peel Sessions commissioned prior to John Peel’s death. Compared to their previous outing, which sounds like a shredder going potty atop deep, flappy bass, Metta, Benevolence... is stocky. The mids elbow their way through the murk of the low-end and the trebly peaks are given space to warp and expand. 2004’s Peel Session is a physical experience not to be written off, however. It is more than capable of palpitating your eardrums with such a convulsive energy that they’ll feel like they’re attempting to take off. What Metta, Benevolence… so adroitly achieves is a reproduction of the battering sonic pressure weathered at a Sunn O))) live show. An experience that Harry Sword has referred to as “A juddering blanket of weight that was akin to Deep South humidity” in his drone bible, Monolithic Undertow. People often talk about volume in relation to their performances which, let’s be fair, is an intrinsic element, but it’s the condensing of sound by continual layering, live overdubs and loops, that form the tumultuous physicality. What is felt is practically solid. This is what separates their physical magnitude from, say, the maximal ear-clattering of Swans. Plenty of bands can crank their amps one louder but few pretenders are capable of recreating the sheer sonic intensity, the atmospheric oppression of a Sunn O))) concert.
Jon Buckland

3. Alvin Curran –
Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri
(Black Truffle)
The reissues put out by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label are never less than great, but Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri is a particularly special release. Originally released in 1978 on a label run by Curran, Roberto Laneri, and Giacinto Scelsi, and consisting of a single long track by the great American composer, former member of Musica Elettronica Viva, and student of Elliott Carter, the album has a dreamlike, almost diaristic quality, dissolving from a cat’s purr to playful vamps upon a toy piano, a child’s voice (apparently Fred Rzewski’s son), a woozy, fluttery synthesiser, a cacophony of birds and bells and playground whoops. Never has musique concrète felt so personal or so revelatory.
Robert Barry

2. Various Artists –
Cameroon Garage Funk
(Analog Africa)
I don’t think there’s anything more quintessentially Cameroon Garage Funk – that fulfils each word of its title most completely – than ‘Sie Tcheu’, by Joseph Kamga. A minute-long instrumental intro builds anticipation, and though there’s not actually a lot of vocal thereafter, the lead guitarist (presumably Kamga himself) dazzles with some hard blues riffs worthy of the most basement-dwelling teen pimplies, which again I naturally mean in a good way. The organ solo, when it hits, is pure wavy gravy Nuggets psych idealism. The 1970s Cameroon bandscape had its own specifics, quirks and idiosyncrasies, just like that of any country from any era, and Analog Africa have ably captured this without going overboard. There’s no obvious reason, short of national affiliation, for someone to focus on its music – which of course cross pollinated with that of its neighbours, plus France later on with the 1980s makossa boom, this perhaps being a colonialist hangover – to the exclusion of others. It’s just full of slinky rhythm, stone funk and some really cool origin stories, the sort of stuff that justifies the continuing existence of the archive reissue market.
Noel Gardner

1. Pastor T.L. Barrett And The Youth For Christ Choir –
I Shall Wear A Crown
(Numero Group)
New York-born T.L. Barrett had lived many different lives before he took charge of Mount Zion Baptist Church on Chicago’s South Side, where he would later minister to the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey and AACM co-founder Phil Cohran. He had worked in a morgue, shined shoes, become a jazz singer and mostly self-taught pianist inspired by Errol Garner among others. But being the distant cousin and former student of preacher and activist Reverend CL Franklin, father of soul icon Aretha, it wasn’t long before he heard the call. He would develop ideas with his Youth For Christ Choir, a Tuesday after-school programme for children aged between 12 and 19. It caused quite a stir. Earth, Wind & Fire’s Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk passed through; (the group’s legendary horns feature on Barrett’s ‘Do Not Pass Me By’). Donny Hathaway visited and pulled out his tape recorder. The album bristles with spontaneity, and much of that is down to its chief architect. “He plays what he hears and writes what he feels,” states Reverend Edmond Blair – the pastor’s pastor – on the back of the original release of Like A Ship. Apparently critics have questioned the quality of the record because the choir aren’t professionals. Barrett believes that one can do all the things through Christ that strengthens him. The Youth for Christ believe it also.
Amar Patel

The Quietus Reissues Etc Of The Year 2021

  • 1: Pastor T.L. Barrett And The Youth For Christ Choir – I Shall Wear A Crown
  • 2: Various Artists – Cameroon Garage Funk
  • 3: Alvin Curran - Fiori Chiari, Fiori Oscuri
  • 4: Sunn O))) – Metta, Benevolence: BBC 6Music Live On The Invitation Of Mary Anne Hobbs
  • 5: Various Artists – Now Thing 2
  • 6: Special Interest – Trust No Wave
  • 7: Grauzone – 40 Years Anniversary Box Set
  • 8: Various Artists – Tresor 30
  • 9:Bulbils – Blue Forty
  • 10: Jaimie Branch – FLY Or DIE LIVE
  • 11: Seefeel – Rupt + Flex (1994 - 96)
  • 12: Various Artists – Do You Have The Force? (Jon Savage's Alternate History Of Electronica 1978-82)
  • 13: Overmono – fabric presents
  • 14: One More Grain – Swirling In The Backyard: Volume 2 / Sulawesi
  • 15: William Parker – Migration Of Silence Into And Out Of The Tone World
  • 16: Faust – 1971-1974
  • 17: Batu – BBC Radio 1's Essential Mix
  • 18: Hailu Mergia And The Walias – Tezeta
  • 19: Aastiage – 1996/2000
  • 20: Various Artists - Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1
  • 21: Tiziano Popoli – Burn The Night / Bruciare La Notte (Original Recordings)
  • 22: Objekt – All Night @ Nowadays, NYC
  • 23: Various Artists – La Ola Interior (Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983 - 1990)
  • 24: GNOD – Easy To Build, Hard To Destroy
  • 25: Regis – Let The Night Return
  • 26: Tchiss-Lopes – Já Bô Corre D'Mim
  • 27: Arthur Russell – World Of Echo
  • 28: Kling Klang – The Esthetik Of Destruction
  • 29: Joseph Spence – Encore: Unheard Recordings Of Bahamian Guitar And Singing
  • 30: Beatriz Ferreyra – CANTO+
  • 31: 4Mars – Super Somali Sounds From The Gulf Of Tadjoura
  • 32: Space Afrika – RA.772
  • 33: Shovel Dance Collective / C Joynes – Betwixt & Between 7
  • 34: Various Artists – Duppy Vaulted (2011 - 2021)
  • 35: Spiritualized – Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
  • 36: Sexual Harassment – I Need A Freak
  • 37: New Life – Visions Of The Third Eye
  • 38: Unsound – Intermission
  • 39: Anz – Spring/Summer Dubs 2021
  • 40: Rakta & DEAFKIDS – Live At Sesc Pompéia
  • 41: Hawthonn – Vulva Caelestis
  • 42: Various Artists – Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List Volume Two (Germany)
  • 43: Various Artists – Essiebons Special: 1973 - 1984 Ghana Music Power House
  • 44: DJ Sprinkles – Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-Inches & One-Offs
  • 45: Depeche Mode – 101
  • 46: Hood – The Hood Tapes
  • 47: Joseph Nechvatal – Selected Sound Works 1981–2021
  • 48: Chris Carter – Electronic Ambient Remixes One & Three
  • 49: John Coltrane – A Love Supreme Live In Seattle
  • 50: SHERELLE – fabric presents
  • 51: Bill Callahan & Bonnie "Prince" Billy – Blind Date Party
  • 52: Darwin – Dekmantel Podcast 351
  • 53: The Long Blondes – Someone To Drive You Home
  • 54: Various Artists – Zanzibara 10: First Modern Taarab Vibes From Mombasa & Tanga / 1970-1990
  • 55: PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
  • 56: object blue With Kornet – Rinse FM Mix
  • 57: Lovett – The Night House (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • 58: David Tudor – Monobirds
  • 59: Michèle Bokanowski – Rhapsodia / Battements Solaires
  • 60: Grand Veymont – Grand Veymont
  • 61: Les Rallizes Dénudés – Double Heads: Maximum Psychedelic Blues Years
  • 62: Okyerema Asante – Drum Message
  • 63: Black Sabbath – Sabotage Super Deluxe
  • 64: Various Artists – Sounds Of Pamoja
  • 65: Bardo Pond – Amanita
  • 66: Various Artists – Lee Lines (Landscape Mixtape)
  • 67: Radiohead – KID A MNESIA
  • 68: Marco Shuttle – Rhythm Büro Podcast 016
  • 69: Squarepusher – Feed Me Weird Things
  • 70: The Sisters Of Mercy – BBC Sessions 1982 - 1984
  • 71: Various Artists – Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989
  • 72: Clint Mansell – In The Earth (Original Music)
  • 73: DJ Stryda – Cream Of Bristol Roots Pirate!
  • 74: Can – Live In Brighton 1975
  • 75: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Candyman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • 76: Julius Hemphill – The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony
  • 77: My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
  • 78: Various Artists – Bills & Aches & Blues (40 Years Of 4AD)
  • 79: Le Blaze - La Tape
  • 80: Djrum – London Unlocked: At Tower Bridge
  • 81: Various Artists – Molten Mirrors: A Decade Of Livity Sound
  • 82: Phew – Phew
  • 83: Coil – Love's Secret Domain (30th Anniversary Edition)
  • 84: Magma – Simples
  • 85: Bambounou – SPND20 Mixtape
  • 86: LCD Soundsystem – The Long Goodbye: Live At Madison Square Garden
  • 87: "Blue" Gene Tyranny – Degrees Of Freedom Found
  • 88: Perko – DIM249
  • 89: Various Artists – Resist To Exist قاوم لِوجودك
  • 90: Psychic Hotline – The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline
  • 91: The KLF, The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu – Come Down Dawn
  • 92: Daniel Hart – The Green Knight (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • 93: Various Artists – Longing For The Shadow: Ryūkōka Recordings, 1921-1939
  • 94: Nadsat – Nadsat
  • 95: The Ecliptic Newsletter – Lidl Museum Of Ancient And Contemporary Art Audio Tour
  • 96: Sun Ra – Lanquidity (Definitive Edition)
  • 97: Suburban Lawns - Suburban Lawns
  • 98: Ben UFO – At Friendly Potential, Wellington
  • 99: Leven Signs – Hemp Is Here
  • 100: Tara Busch – Jakob's Wife (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)